tv Martin Bashir MSNBC February 8, 2013 4:00pm-5:00pm EST
♪ >> people around here are bracing themselves. snow already starting to fall. >> this is a powerful storm. >> the largest blizzard in decades is poised to swallow the northeast. >> tough questions for cia director nominee john brennan. >> tough questions about drones. >> any american who joins al qaeda will know full well that they have joined an organization that is at war with the united states. >> targeted killing by the cia is not just something they're allowed to do quietly on their own. >> with the exception of mr. panetta, i feel i have been jerked around by every cia director. >> i love these groups that are criticizing us saying, well, they're fake conservatives. >> this newspaper article about karl rove's intentions is only serving to unite the tea party. >> you made some mistakes but everybody makes mistakes. >> sure. >> heard anything on nbc about the drones? >> not yet.
>> tonight we have exclusive reporting on the contents of that white paper. joining us now is nbc news national investigative correspondent michael isikoff. ♪ we start on a day where up to three feet of snow and winds nearing hurricane strength are expected to batter the northeast, and we'll have much more on that throughout the broadcast. but we begin in washington where we are awaiting the president to speak at a farewell tribute to defense secretary leon panetta in washington. it's a ceremony marked by a 19-gun salute, an inspection of troops, and all accompanied by the united states pershing zone army band. general martin dempsey spoke first and he will soon be followed by the president. all to honor the man whom on thursday senator barbara mackowski said was the one
person as cia director who never jerked her around. this comes a day after john brennan, the man who hopes to be the next cia director, walked into a volatile confirmation hearing room full of protests and pointed questions over torture, ren dation, adition, a targeted killings in the war on proper. >> i think there's a misimpression on the part of some american people who believe we take strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions. nothing could be further from the truth. we only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative to taking an action that's going to mitigate that threat. >> mr. brennan took pointed questions from democrats and republicans alike. but it was the republicans most eager to press mr. brennan on areas other than policy. and on that count, mr. brennan not only parried, he pushed
back. >> it is possible to put out an authorized leak, is that correct? >> no, those are oxymorons, authorized leak. >> for more we first now go to nbc's luke russert who is live for us at the white house. luke, i want to get to the brennan hearing in a moment. but, first, the president wants to replace secretary panetta -- the man he wants to replace panetta with, chuck hagel, is having his confirmation held up. now, can you explain inwhat this is about? what's happened? >> reporter: sure. well, the vote for chuck hagel to be confirmed has to come out of the senate armed services committee, and republicans there have asked mr. hagel for really some intense background questions as to whether or not he has been paid by any company that has dealings with foreign companies in the last five years. they want to have all the records about anything that he's been paid $5,000 or more through speeches or various things over the last few years. karl kevin thoucarl levin thoug
the ranking member for 26 years, says this has been unprecedented by republicans. they're really going after all this information because they simply want to delay mr. hagel. he released a letter today that said mr. hagel's nomination will move forward next week. hopefully be voted out of committee. that's what democrats feel. and they held the numbers there, 14-12, so they believe it will go forward. but, i mean, the letter speaks for itself. levin claiming that he's never seen these types of questions asked for democrats or republicans through the armed services committee over the last 26 years. >> pretty typical though for republicans of late. now to john brennan. what's been the reaction from the white house after his confirmation hearing? because we know that there was some concern about the way chuck hagel performed. how does the white house feel about how things went with mr. brennan? >> reporter: well, talking to folks, the democrats here in d.c., there is a lot of confidence in brennan's performance because it's the complete opposite of hagel. they felt brennan looked
self-assured. he gave a spirited defense to the administration's policies and most importantly he was also humble. he said there should be more information put forward in terms of when these drone strikes occur if civilians are injured. this hearing for mr. brennan also sort of placated a lot of democrats on that committee because the white house released papers from the department of justice explaining the legal rationale behind the drone strikes. so overall, the feel something that john brennan performed admirably, that he will move forward and he will be a good director of the cia. they felt that the committee hearing went as well as it could be. what's interesting, martin, john brennan has 25 years experience at the cia and that's really what we've heard. he's the most experienced person to take over the cia in quite some time. no one should stand in the way of that. >> okay, luke russert there in washington. thanks so much, luke. let's get right to our panel now. from washington karen finney, a columnist with the hill, and michael o'hanlon, senior foreign policy fellows at the brookings institution. welcome to you both.
mike, if i can start with you. in addition to the many other responsibilities that you yourself carry, you're also a member of the cia's external advisory board. are you satisfied with john brennan's responses, particularly in relation to the drone program? >> well, you know, martin, i do think we need checks and balances in our system, and i think groping towards the right way to handle a question of whether it be drones or some other kind of use of force, the broader question here is using force in a country where we haven't before or against a person we haven't before, possibly an american citizen when you have got this very broad authorization on the use of force against an enemy that's very generally defined going back to the 2001 legislation. so it's bigger than any one technology that might be used. but, no, i'm not totally comfortable yet, martin. i still wonder if we need some kind of internal executive branch but totally independent check. in other words, some kind of a special court or a special counsel who has independent
authority to stop a strike or at least advise strongly against it and require additional vetting. i'm not sure we're totally at the place we need to be on this. it's understandable it would be hard and it's understandable we don't want to have completely open scrutiny outside of the executive branch when it's a war-time operation, but i'm still groping for the right answer. >> karen, i want to play an exchange between marco rubio and mr. brennan. it's an he can change that starts with mr. rubio demanding answers for why the u.s. was not able to interrogate a suspect in the benghazi attacks, and he was briefly held by tunisia. take a listen to this. >> tunisians did not have a basis in their law to hold him. >> so they released him. >> they did. >> where is he? we don't know. >> he's still in tunisia. >> that doesn't sound like a good system of working with our foreign partners. >> it shows the tunisians are working with their rule of law like we do. >> i know mr. rubio wants to sound ready for responsibility
and if he's got some very strong testicles, but dismissing the rules and practices of a foreign nation, that's hardly the most mature way to approach international terrorism, is it? >> oh, martin, that's poppycock. come on. we should have been able to force the tunisian government to do exactly what we wanted them to do. >> we're not even in any kind of conflict with the tunisian -- >> i'm kidding, of course. while marco rubio was trying and similarly we saw this in the hearing with hillary clinton, he was trying very hard to show that he is in command of the facts and he is ready to be, you know, presidential and handle this kind of information, and, instead, what he actually showed, particularly if you watch there's a little bit more to that exchange and it really shows how little he understands about how our relationships with foreign governments work, about how -- the role of the cia because there's this whole question -- part of what brennan had been talking about was whether or not this is a role the cia should continue to play in this instance.
so instead he really revealed how little he understands and how hard he's trying to prove to all of us that he is -- he's got his big boy pants on. >> yes, indeed. mike, anyone who lost a family member in the attacks of 9/11 which were planned overseas is not going to have any problem with killing potential terrorists in afghanistan or in the yemen. but don't we need to confront the fact that if this is our strategy, then there is unlikely to be an end to this conflict because in places like pakistan, for example, where you have great expertise, there is something like 80 million young men where youth unemployment hovers around 20%, where literacy is barely over 25%. there is no shortage of people joining up for the jihad against america, is there? >> i think you're right, martin. which is why to build on my point a minute ago, i think we do need to keep working towards the ideal system for checks and balances within our own government on how to authorize these decisions because even if
we have, as i believe, a president, an incoming cia director, others who are competent and trustworthy and experienced on this question now, we could imagine a situation in five or ten years when someone else is pulling the trigger, perhaps in a different country, against a group that calls itself or that we designated as an al qaeda affiliate but who knows if we will make equally well-reasoned judgments. i'm not sure i want somebody to have veto power but i think i want somebody looking over it, potentially interceding in some way. somebody who is independent of the immediate appointees of the president at that time. and that's why i'm uncomfortable, feel like we need to do better than we've done so far. >> karen? >> also i think part of what we're seeing here is, you know, yet again how dramatically events are changing and the nature of warfare is changing and the nature of how we -- the tools we have at our disposal and the challenges that we're confronting in terms of how do we do this in a way that is consistent with our values but that also ensures we're keeping
people safe? even from the time of bush to now, president obama, tactics have shifted. tactics on the other side have shifted. again, i think to michael's point, part of the reason we should have this kind of outside verification process is because as the needs change, we need to make sure that we're still staying consistent with some core values. >> karen finney and michael o'hanlon, brilliant, thank you both. sta with us. we have much more ahead. >> americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes. jive to tell you, if that's an argument they want to have before the court of public opinion, that is an argument i am more than willing to engage in. hi. hi. i'm here to pick up some cacti. it should be under stephens. the verizon share everything plan for small business. get a shareable pool of data... got enough joshua trees? ... on up to 25 devices.
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if speaker john boehner wins his budget battle with the president, then who would be the real losers? well, there's 70,000 poor children who could lose their access to head start. there's 600,000 women and children who could lose their nutritional assistance. there's 125,000 families who could lose their permanent housing. 100,000 formerly homeless people who could end up back on the streets. over 7,000 people suffering from hiv and aids could lose their medication. and then there's the legions of senior citizens who would lose 4 million meals delivered through the meals on wheels program, and that is just a partial list of the damage that speaker boehner and his mirthless band of tea party fanatics are threatening to inflict. as the white house with great understatement said today, these large and arbitrary cuts will have severe impacts across the
government. let's bring in professor james peterson of lehigh university and msnbc contributor jonathan capehart of the "washington post." professor, republicans love to use the word "sequester" without ever referencing what that means in practice, but the president is absolutely clear. take a listen. >> they recognize that the sequester is a bad idea, but what they've suggested is that the only way to replace it now is for us to cut social security, cut medicare, and not close a single loophole. i believe the american people understand that, yes, we need to reduce the deficit, but it shouldn't just be on the backs of seniors. it shouldn't just be on the backs of young people. >> professor, do republicans not realize that they are protecting the interests of massive oil companies and their profits and potentially throwing the poor into abject poverty? >> if they look at the data and
look at the facts, i would say they would absolutely have to acknowledge that. you know, this is kind of a tricky situation, right, because the sequester was never meant to be put into policy. it was meant to sort of threaten politicians to make policy that could be more efficient and a little bit more balanced. a lot of people criticizing this president would not working on behalf of the poor or defending the poor. when you look at the draconian cuts you just listed at the beginning of the segment, those things all attack and undermine the economic and food security of poor people in this country. what's interesting about this whole sequester piece though is that the kind of cuts that we actually need to get in the military are somehow in some ways represented here. so it's kind of like shiny candy from both sides, and i think the republicans think they can ride this in the same way the president sort of rode out the fiscal cliff deal to his advantage, but it just won't work out that same way. so we have to understand the sequester is really just code word for undermining the safety net and food security and economic security for the poorest folk in this country. >> absolutely. jonathan, the sequester, which
would inflict $85 billion in across the board cuts in just one year, was designed to be so awful that congress would have to act to prevent it. house republicans appear increasingly willing to let the sequester take effect despite their concerns to cuts over defense spending. i think that's actually the preferred position said republican representative tom cole of oklahoma. so, jonathan, how did the sequester go from being the worst thing in the entire world to something that republicans now would prefer to see happen? >> you know, i wish i had the answer to that question, but congressman cole is not alone. he's not all by himself in that view. republican member of congress told me yesterday that he didn't think that the sequester was a big deal. so you have this stick that professor peterson talked about and that we knew about in 2011 that was supportsed to force and cajole congress into doing the
right thing. >> jonathan, i'm going to have to interrupt you because the president is now speaking at the armed forces farewell tribute honoring defense secretary leon panetta. >> a young married couple in italy packed up what few belongings that they had and boarded a boat for a new world. they passed under the statute of liberty and went through the lines of ellis island. carmelo and carmelina panetta had no money and spoke little english, but they had a dream of a better life. they worked hard. they went west to california. they started a family and taught their sons that if they studied and worked, if they gave back to this country, that they, too, could share in america's
promise. today we pay tribute to their son, leon panetta, a man who hasn't simply lived up to the american dream but has helped to protect it for all of us. leon, our presence here today, members of congress, deputy secretary carter, general dempsey, and the members of the joint chiefs, service secretaries, and the men and women of the greatest military that the world has ever known, all this is a reflection of our personal appreciation to you and the gratitude of a nation that you have helped to keep strong and to keep free. by the time i came to office, leon panetta was already regarded as one of our nation's finest public servants with an extraordinary career across more than four decades. he and sylvia had settled into
the good life. their beautiful monterey, their beloved walnut farm. leon will deny it, but i hear he was going restless. he wanted less time on the tractor and enjoying good weather and more time in the office. less time in california, more time in washington interacting with the west wing and members of congress. who wouldn't? and so we gave him his wish. leon, i will always be grateful that you agreed to return to public service, and, sylvia, i am so grateful that you put up with him. your leadership of the cia will forever be remembered for the blows that we struck against al qaeda and perhaps the greatest intelligence success in american history, delivering justice to osama bin laden. [ applause ]
by then leon had every right to expect that he could return home, and i'll admit that when we first asked him to stay on and lead the pentagon, his answer was simple. no. but i kept asking. i am persistent. that's how michelle married me. i just kept at it, and it is a testament to leon's patriotism, to his sense of duty that he agreed to serve on this one last tour. and perhaps it was the memory during world war ii of his parents opening up their homes to gis headed for the pacific. perhaps it was because leon served himself as a young lieutenant in the army. perhaps it was the experience of watching his youngest son deploy
to afghanistan. what we do know is this, as our nation's 23rd secretary of defense, every action leon panetta has taken, every decision that he has made, has been with one goal in mind -- taking care of our sons and our daughters in uniform and keeping america safe. and just think of the progress under his watch. because we ended the war in iraq and are winding down the war in afghanistan, our troops are coming home, and next year our war in afghanistan will come to an end. we've put the core of al qaeda on the path to defeat, and we've been relentless against its affiliates. because we have a sacred obligation to our troops to take care of them like they've taken care of us. we're improsk treatment for our
wounded warriors, stepping up support for our military families, and doing more than ever to help our newest veterans transition to civilian life. and that includes the jobs our veterans need as we do some nation building here at home. because we believe in opportunity for all americans, the tenure of secretary leon panetta, the son of immigrants, this first generation american, will be remembered for historic progress in welcoming more of our fellow citizens to military service. for the formal and final repeal of don't ask, don't tell. for opening combat roles to our incredible women in uniform. in short, for making our military and our nation that much stronger. because we forged a new defense strategy, we'll be better prepared for the future, better prepared to meet the threats that we face without larger
military footprints, better prepared against cyber attacks, better prepared to advance our interests in the asia-pacific region, and after more than a decade of war, better prepared for the broadest range of contingencies. >> the president offering fulsome praise for the life-long service of leon panetta at an armed forces tribute to the departing secretary of defense. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if we took the nissan altima and reimagined nearly everything in it? gave it greater horsepower and class-leading 38 mpg highway... advanced headlights... prepared against cyber attacks, departing secretary of defense. yeah, that would be cool. introducing the completely reimagined nissan altima.
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skies and karl on the coals. here are today's "top lines." tell it papa bear. >> heard anything on nbc about the drones. >> not yet. >> michael isikoff broke a big story from nbc news. >> you haven't heard anything over there about this and neither have i. >> the use of drones continues to make headlines. >> we haven't heard anything. >> immediately the far left machine cranked up. o'reilly didn't say that nbc news broke the drone memo story. he's a deceiver. >> i'm just wondering why this is suddenly a topic of discussion. >> having the power go out was really embarrassing. sort of the way our country is working. >> do you really think the president's children are the same kind of target? that's ridiculous. >> ar-15s are commonly available. there are over 3 million in circulation. >> i have two. >> mine is bigger than yours. >> one of the things about an ar-15 is a weapon that is easily handled by people. >> i beg your pardon? >> my cucumber. it's bigger. >> we have a lot of room to grow
as a party. >> i'm basically the healthiest fat guy you have ever seen in your life. >> there is your campaign poster right there. >> we spend $2.9 million for marco rubio. ♪ >> i don't know. i just think tupac's lyrics were probably more insightful. >> i want to win, karl. >> we're losing. >> i have had enough of it. it's time to act. >> we can learn a lot from the last election. >> they're breaking my floor all the time. >> hispanics and republicans going together like beans and very, very white rice. >> a crony capitalism illustrative of karl rove. these people need a hard, swift kick in the [ bleep ]. >> ige you. anytime you hold up your little sheet -- >> if you don't talk about anything of it goes away. for instance, sarah palin. sadly -- [ applause ] >> let's get to our panel now. krystal ball is my colleague and the co-host of "the cycle" and jimmy williams is an msnbc contributor. thank you both for keeping my
studio warm there in new york. >> happy to do it. kroo krystal, let me show you something. a new article in national review ha says karl rove's opposition to steve king's iowa senate bid has been the best thing that ever happened to mr. king. are we witnessing the final days of the reign of king karl over the republican party? >> well, i think we may be. the fact that his super pac in the last election in 2012 had a 1.29% return on investment has not made donors very happy. >> oh, come on. he only spend $300 million. >> i know. it's chump change really. i don't know what they're so upset about. but the other thing here for the candidates for candidates like steve king, and really for any candidate, show me the piece of mail or the television advertisement that says i am the choice of the establishment, that's why you should back me. and essentially that is what karl rove's impractice mature at this point means. yeah, especially in the republican party, especially
where there's this huge anti-establishment tea party wing, being the choice of the establishment, having that branded on you is not going to be a good thing. and the converse of that for steve king, if you are not the choice of the establishment, you can raise money off of that. you can send out wonderful e-mails to your supporters. they're going to love that. so, yeah, it's a good thing for him. >> absolutely. we'll look forward to hearing from mr. king describing immigrants as dogs. let's play a sample of rove's fox interview on thursday. his second in as many days. take a listen. >> we spent over $30 million on behalf of tea party senate candidates and over $25 million for tea party house candidates. >> why are they mad at you then? >> let me finish. 2.9 for rubio, 2.7 for -- >> okay. i believe you. anytime you hold up your little sheet -- >> anytime you hold up a little sheet. rove isn't just a failure. he's become a punch line now, hasn't he, jimmy?
>> this is the architect of the bush 43 revolution. i would suggest he was a punch bag before. the problem is they swallowed him hook, line, and sinker and the conservatives found out there was a bad taste in their mouth. they don't like george bush, jr. they don't like his spending policies, his war policies. they didn't like a lot about george bush, jr. and his chief architect, the golden child, was karl rove. if they thought he was so bad now, didn't they think that he was so bad then? apparently not. i have another thought. if he raised and spent $300 million on failed candidates, krystal just gave you the number, 1.29%, imagine if they had spent $300 million on geotv in states like florida. or i have another state, pennsylvania. or maybe just crazy, virginia. oh, wait, they lost all three of
those. >> yes, indeed. >> not to give them a playbook, but i'm just saying. >> you're giving them good advice. >> krystal, that interview stirred a bit of controversy among some conservatives. take a listen to this claim by karl rove. >> i was the director of the texas campaign for ronald reagan in the fall of 1980. >> now, that was interesting, krystal because reagan biographer craig shirley in an e-mail to conservatives today alleges in the course of his research, i'm quoting, at no time did i come across mr. rove's name in association with the reagan campaign. regardless of the veracity of this allegation, isn't it interesting that we're seeing rove's strategy to attack someone's biography being used against him? >> it is interesting. the other thing that's interesting is he and dick morris both are basically going out to try to prove how they were right, how they have been helpful to the party, how they have done good things. it's amazing how both of their
stars have fallen since this election, and, of course, the thi thing with karl rove, whether you liked him or not, whether you thought he was just a genius or an evil genius, a lot of people thought he was very smart, and i think the way that he played things out in this past election has proven that that is not the case at all. >> jimmy, speaking of the great warthog, mr. rove, do you think this is basically another attempt to fill his own coffers, to get people to employ him, to basically feather his own nest regardless of whether what he has to say is of any value to the republican party into the future? >> sure. i mean, of the $300 million they raised this last cycle, how much of it did go into his pockets or his staff's pockets? i think that would be -- >> i don't think those figures have been disclosed. >> i don't think they have. they're not for profit, martin. that's very important for to you remember. these groups are called not for profits under the tax code and they are supposed to be out
there educating the public. >> social welfare. >> just like social security, medicare and medicaid. it's basically food stamps for conservatives. i can tell you this, he certainly dresses way better now than he did when he was in the white house. >> okay. jimmy williams and krystal ball, thank you so much. >> stay with us. much more ahead. >> worst hit will be boston. which is expecting five foot snowdrifts. my god. if that happens to new york, we won't find our mayor until spring. clients are always learning more to make their money do more. (ann) to help me plan my next move, i take scottrade's free, in-branch seminars... plus, their live webinars. i use daily market commentary to improve my strategy. and my local scottrade office guides my learning every step of the way. because they know i don't trade like everybody. i trade like me.
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snow, high winds. up to 70 miles per hour in some places. already whiteout conditions have been reported in parts of new england with much more snow to come. so far roughly 5,000 flights have been canceled, rail service has been suspended as the northeast essentially grinds to a halt. joining me is the weather channel's jim cantore in boston. jim, what's the scene like right now? >> reporter: well, craig, we have a very wet snow. it's almost like white mud coming out of the sky right now. you can see it flocked against all the trees, and this doesn't help matters because eventually when these winds pick up to 60 miles per hour tonight, you got all that weight added onto a gust of wind. that's going to cause the tree limbs to come down. it will cause power outages. this type of snow, which we expect to change eventually once the storm gets cranking, is certainly not good for the power outage situation. we're out at boston commons. you can see people are out here enjoying the snow, having a good time. we got a big snowman here, a big
one on the left side of me. we're expecting to measure this snow in feet, craig. i have a yardstick out here. it's rare i bring a yardstick out to do a snowstorm, but this one is going to come at least three-quarters of the way up this yardstick before all is said and done. just a couple inches right now but it's a heavy, wet snow. the good news is as the governor has requested by noontime today here in the commonwealth, we want people off of the interstates. we want them off the secondary roads, all nonnecessary, nonemergency personnel off the roads. i just showed a shot with the weather channel of interstate 90, the mass pike, completely empty. the mass pike. at 4:30 on an afternoon. you have got to be kidding me. people are heeding the warnings. they're hunkering down because they do not want a situation like we had back in 1978 where thousands of cars and people were trapped on the roads in a situation like this. again, as you see this snow coming down, pretty straight, not too horizontal at the present time. we haven't gotten into the real business of this blizzard.
25 million will feel the 60-mile-per-hour winds as we get into tonight and the very, very intense snow band probably accompanied by thunder and lightning. this is going to be one heck of a storm. by the time everybody wakes up tomorrow morning, we will see a good chunk of this yardstick at least here in boston right up to the top. back to you. >> state of emergency declared there, rhode island, connecticut, new york, maine as well. governor patrick has banned vehicles from being on the roads there in massachusetts. 4:00 and after. quick question before i let you go, with we focused on boston. what about new york and connecticut? what kind of snow totals are we looking at there? >> reporter: new york is kind of interesting because they spent a little bit of the day in rain. that's going to take away from some of their total, but still you could literally go from new york city where they may get 6 to 10 inches to westchester county where it could be as much as 24 inches. all of connecticut is expecting over a foot of snow easy and it will be blowing around and once
again, the state of connecticut is facing power outages with a storm of this magnitude. just hard to believe, but this poor state has just been hit so hard. and the problem, craig, is, okay, we see the power outages, the poles are down, tree limbs are down. how do you get the power back on? how do you get to the poles where there's two, three feet of snow on the ground in some of these areas? that has to be removed first before you can get in and restore power. that's why they're telling everybody, plan on extensive power outages with a storm of this magnitude and, unfortunately, everything we see meteorologically is coming together right now off the east coast of new jersey. >> jim cantore with the very latest for us from boston. thanks to you, sir. appreciate that. much more ahead with martin bashir. first though, tyler mathisen with the cnbc market wrap. craig, thank you very much. and that storm affecting wall street today where trading volume in the new york stock exchange was the lowest so far this year, but that did not stop the s&p 500 and the nasdaq from motoring ahead and now for the first time in 42 years, the s&p
500 up 8 points, nasdaq up 28, have started the year with six consecutive weeks of gains. martin will be right back. [ male announcer] surprise -- you're having triplets. [ babies crying ] surprise -- your house was built on an ancient burial ground. [ ghosts moaning ] surprise -- your car needs a new transmission. [ coyote howls ] how about no more surprises? now you can get all the online trading tools you need without any surprise fees. ♪ it's not rocket science. it's just common sense. from td ameritrade.
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it may come as a shock to anyone who follows washington politics, but there's now a bipartisan group of senators who are actually pursuing some common sense curbs on gun violence. their agenda may not go as far as some of us would like, but the senatorial quartet consisting of chuck schumer, joe manchin, mark kirk, and tom coburn are working on a deal that could expand background checks on gun sales. this comes during the same week when a bipartisan group of house members came forward to announce they, too, are working along similar lines.
could this be the start of something big? let's bring in msnbc contributor goldie taylor and democratic strategist julian epstein. there's a lot more to curbing gun violence than background checks. but here you have got these two democrats, two republicans, even two nra members in senators manchin and coburn. isn't this a sign that things that are possible -- that we should be optimistic that things are going to happen? >> you know, martin, forgive me for being a bit cynical but i think it's the start of something small. this is cowardice on its face when we can't talk honestly about banning assault weapons, about banning clips with multiple rounds, 30, 40 rounds in a clip. when we can't talk about cracking down on the illegal gun trade happening on our streets every day. >> but you say we can't talk honestly. we have had a lot of people saying, the president himself repeatedly virtually every other
day that he would love to revive the assault weapons ban, but isn't this in effect a sign that the politics of this are so difficult and should you not be or should we not be encouraged that at least some conversation which involves both sides of the aisle is beginning to move forward? >> i think i'm encouraged that they are going to close the loophole and make universal background checks a reality. i think that is encouraging to me. but what isn't encouraging to me is that what's killing black and brown boys on the streets of chicago and atlanta and l.a. are straw purchasers who are buying these guns. it isn't even a felony to traffic in guns in this country. and that, that is a tragedy. >> okay. julian, former president bill clinton's made some remarks to house democrats at their retreat in virginia today. he talked about the 1994 assault weapons ban which many democrats still blame for allowing republicans to take control of congress in that year's elections. take a listen. >> every single night before i went to bed for months and
months and months after the 1994 election i thought about the people who were defeated because they voted for the economic program. i thought about the people who were defeated because they voted for the assault weapons ban. i knew exactly what had happened, and i thought a lot about those who survived and why they did. >> julian, to goldie's point, will the ghosts of 1994 and what happened to the democrats scare them off from trying to do that right now? >> no. i actually had many conversations with president clinton about this, including -- >> i remember you telling me about those. >> in the oval office. and the evidence that people lost their seats after the '94 vote is very, very questionable. but there were two things that were very different in 1994. one, the polling numbers weren't anywhere like they are today. as you pointed out, we've hit a tipping point. we weren't at that place in 1994. secondly, you had a very different situation with a number of democrats in the south
who held marginal seats that were -- that had strong nra representation in them and maybe were affected on the margins. you don't have either of those two factors today. and what president clinton then said to me and to others in the oval office in 1999 after columbine was he would go into new hampshire into the middle of hunting season and make a case for the kinds of things president obama is talking for and that he could win 70% for the public support and his point was essentially this. you can get this stuff, not by making one speech or two speeches the way president obama did earlier this week, but through a concerted campaign over very, very many months that involves not just the white house but involves the massive grassroots, social media apparatuses that we've spoken about. and applaud goldie very much for what she said because there is emerging this kind of path of least resistance, conventional wisdom that all we can get done
is background checks. the real story about what's happening right now and this is what friends of mine are telling me on the hill, is that the republican leadership is telling the nra there is no way they can resist background checks because 90% of the public support it and they're tired of being on the losing end of so many of the issues and the debates that are going on. so the republicans on the hill have basically told the nra they've got to get background checks. but background checks won't do anything as we've discussed about -- it wouldn't have stopped newtown, it wouldn't have stopped aurora, it wouldn't stop all of the things that goldie is talking about. background checks will stop you from getting a gun if you're a convicted felon or you've been adjudicated in a court of law or a duly constituted legal body as being mentally incompetent. that leaves a lot of people who are able to get, as goldie is pointing out, these weapons of mass destruction, these assault weapons, clips that are responsible for so much of the carnage. 1644 people have been killed since newtown. that's the equivalent of a new
town occurring in this country every day. >> goldie, to julian's point, out here in california at the moment, the gun issue is on everyone's minds because authorities are still searching for christopher dorner. he's the former lapd officer wanted in connection with three murders. they may also be on edge because the manhunt for mr. dorner has led to the accidental shooting of at least one innocent person, a 71-year-old woman who was delivering newspapers at the time. will ongoing episodes of gun violence like this added to what julian was talking about in terms of the grassroots and consumers and members of the public, is this what's going to move this debate forward? >> i think it's probably the only thing that will keep it in our consciousness, keep us from forgetting and move this debate forward. unfortunately, you know, we're understanding that mr. dorner is carrying some very high-powered weaponry he really shouldn't have. so, you know, we look forward to a conclusion to this that he's captured and that we can move
on. >> goldie and julian, i wish we had more time but thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. e go. from the top. and action for over 75 years people have saved money with gecko so.... director's voice: cut it! ...what...what did i say? gecko? i said gecko? aw... for over 75 year...(laughs. but still trying to keep it contained) director's voice: keep it together. i'm good. i'm good. for over 75...(uncontrollable lahtuger). what are you doing there? stop making me laugh. vo: geico. saving people money for over seventy-five years. gecko: don't look at me. don't look at me.
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